A bit of time had passed since that talk with Shaina’s cousin, Hannah. Shaina worked for Wells Fargo when we first met, and she wound up coming down from Omak a few times for training at the local branch in Wenatchee. Every time she came to town we would hang out at her cousins and get to know each other a little better every time. She did not yet have a cell phone, and she gave me her home phone. Shaina at this point still lived at home with her parents. This complicated things a bit. Not because we were up to no good or anything, there was just a little snag! There is an age difference between Shaina and I. I am eleven and a half years older than her. When I was thirty-one, she was nineteen. Her parents did not like this, and when I called for the first time things were weird. I knew something was up, I just didn’t know what. It came to my attention later that the age difference was a problem for them. I was at a crossroads now. I knew that I liked Shaina, now I had to decide what to do: fight or flee.
There were so many things to weigh in the balance. I had a past. I’d made mistakes. I have a bit temper, would I scare her? I suffer from moderate to severe depression, is it fair for me to drag her into that too? The cons were building up. What I finally to start asking the right question. I no longer thought about, or asked myself, “Is she good enough for me?” I started to ask: “Am I good enough for her?”
Well the answer to that question was unequivocally NO! However, I also decided that it wasn’t fair for me to make that decision by myself. I needed to let her decide. I needed to expose all my faults to her, not that I was hiding them or anything. She needed to make her choice based on all the information.
How deal with a disapproving mom and dad? Hmmm…. I decided to take the head on approach. I wasn’t about to sneak around behind their backs with their daughter. I knew I had to approach this in an adult fashion, with respect, and reason. So one fine Sunday morning I made the hour and a half drive up to Omak to attend the meeting at their Kingdom Hall. After the meeting was over, I said a quick prayer and made a B-line for her dad. I introduced myself, shook his hand, and then the 4 of us spent the afternoon together.
After that, we had our first real date. Shaina picked up her friend Lindsey, and then we went out for Mexican food. After that she showed me around town, we went to the suicide hill where they race horses down a hill in a “ The Man From Snowy River” fashion. And then we went to the bottom of the hill where the park was and they hold the Omak stampede every August. We threw my football around for a while, and when it started to get dark we went our separate ways. No first kiss just yet. I felt like we had something more special than that. We had trust. I trusted her to make the right decisions. I had given her parents no reason to mistrust me. Dad took a while to come around, but Mom was on board after that first introduction. I’m so glad we did things the way we did. I love my in-laws, and we get along well.
I remember the day I called my mum to tell her about Chris for the first time. I had been out of town with training for work and we hadn’t seen each other in awhile. So I called her one day while on a break. “So I met this guy…” I say and start describing Chris to her and sharing the story a bit of how we’d hung out a couple times and that he seemed really cool. And then I hear dad’s voice in the background asking how old he is (I guess he’d been listening in on our conversation). So I answer: “He’s 30…” And I can hear dad again, “He’s THIRTY?! He’s thirty…? He’s thirty.” He walked away repeating it to himself.
And that became a sore spot. You see, I was only 19 at the time…and to my dad, thirty = married before with kids, or something scary like that. And so when Chris called me at home for the first time (this was back before I had a cell phone…crazy, I know!) things were awkward, he could tell something was off and I couldn’t really explain to him why. I barely knew Chris…I didn’t know enough about him to allay my dad’s fears. All I knew was that there was just something about him I was drawn to. But I was living at home, under my parents’ roof and so I had to follow their rules. My dad told me to call Chris back that night and inform him that we weren’t allowed to talk while I was still living at home. I remember resenting my dad so much that night, and in the days that followed. We had a couple big blow ups and fights during that time. We’d never really fought about anything before, and so it was strange to me…to fight for something with someone I barely knew, but my heart told me Chris was worth fighting for.
Sunday morning came and we went to the meeting like normal. Half-way through my Dad got up and went to the back for a bit. When he came back he wrote a note to my mom who passed it to me that said: “Is Chris here?” I looked up at my Dad in disbelief and then slowly turned to look around. Sure enough, there he was sitting in the back corner. I nodded yes to my Dad, and then sat back and just couldn’t stop smiling. After the meeting was over, Chris went right up to my Dad and introduced himself. For the first time in my life, someone had done for me exactly what I needed, without me having to ask. I just knew that this action would make all the difference. It was a pretty incredible feeling. Knowing that he felt I was worth the confrontation and whatever was to come.
The afternoon turned out good and the 4 of us spent some time together. My parents were able get to know Chris better and were introduced to his poop humor, and he became a real man interested in their daughter instead of some “scary 30-something guy.”
They let him stay for the afternoon and we were able to go on our first date. We went out for Mexican food. I “impressed” him with my healthy appetite and knowledge of the game of football. And he made me laugh. The conversation flowed freely and he felt like a best friend I’d had all my life. This was just the beginning, but I was falling fast.
We ended the evening on top of the suicide hill in Omak watching the fireworks. It might sound silly, but they mimicked the sparks I was feeling in my heart for this man. This man who’d put himself out there for the chance to get to know me. I’ll never forget that night, and the feeling of hope that hung in the air as we said goodnight. It was a first-date-day to remember.